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Kantan

Kantan is a Chinese-style compound (on-reading) meaning 'simple'. It is normally written in characters as 簡単, a form that is frequently encountered, as in the following notice:

Kantan, kirei
Simple, attractive

Given that kantan is a Chinese-style compound, it is somewhat surprising to find that it is also often written in hiragana as かんたん.


O-te-tsuzuki wa kantan desu.
Procedures are simple.

The motive for writing the word in hiragana may be to emphasise how clean and simple it is to apply for the services advertised (automatic debiting of bank accounts). There is also the fact that kantan is a very familiar word in everyday life, which makes it easier to dispense with Chinese characters.

In other signs, kantan is found written in katakana:


Kaigai kara Nihon e kantan ni kokusai denwa dekiru kaado desu.
KDDI Sūpaa Waarudo Kaado

A card that makes it simple to make an international call to Japan from overseas.
KDDI Super World Card

Saidai yaku ni man go sen ken,
kensaku, hasshin mo kantan na
poketto deeta beesu kinō.

Maximum of approx. 25,000 items,
pocket data base function with easy search and sending.

A Google search in August 2003 reveals that the use of both hiragana and katakana to write the word kantan is relatively common, at least on the Internet:

Form
No. of occurrences
簡単
3,890,000
カンタン
299,000
かんたん
146,000
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